“Today, the cool word is ‘maker.’ It’s a little part of our DNA and we’ve somehow forgotten how to do it. We became consumers vs. makers. I would encourage parents to give their kids a creative corner or a designated space to be messy and create.”
– David Yakos, Co-Owner, Director of Creativity, Mad Scientist, Inventor at Salient Technologies
Discovery Elementary’s first annual PumpkinFest was a hit. Besides bringing our local community together for colorful Halloween fun, games and good food, it highlighted something my Nerds’ school does very well. It not only encourages creative problem-solving, but also provides the means and physical space for kids to be creative.
As part of the October festival and community open house, Discovery’s art department hosted a Global Cardboard Challenge-themed makerspace. With maker kit supplies, like batteries, switches and LEDs, and a mountain of donated cardboard and other recyclables, students were able to create whatever their imaginations could conjure. The resulting inventions were displayed throughout the school as an apt reminder of the potential, power and beauty of making.
At Raising Nerd, we believe that the most important role a parent plays in helping develop their Nerd’s passion and creativity is the role of facilitator. Encourage their creativity, give them the means, and then, basically, get out of their way. If you can lead a budding Nerd to creative STEM/STEAM opportunities, they’ll not only drink, they’ll dive in.
Give Them Space
There seem to be more and more opportunities for kids to get hands-on these days at a variety of community- and business-sponsored events, like the recent mini Maker Faire I took my girls to at Barnes & Noble.
But one of the easiest ways to find a place for your Nerd to tinker and exercise their creative making skills is to designate and set up your own makerspace at home. That space can be used for art, robotics, construction, science experiments – whatever floats their Nerd boat. And it can be provisioned with new electronics to design and assemble, old electronics to disassemble, a 3D printer, paints, markers, crayons, Play-Doh, a pottery wheel, LEGO, or any/all of the above.
The composition of your Nerds’ makerspace depends only on their age-appropriate interests, your budget, and how much space you have available. In our modest Northern Virginia home, closet space, counter space, play space – space, in general – is limited. Even so, we’ve made sure RocketteGirl and Lightning McQueen have a place (or two) where they can exercise their creative muscles for school and Kiwi Crate projects, for Odyssey of the Mind activities, and for everyday fun.
It’s not as big a space as I’d like it to be, and it often gets overloaded with, uh, “stuff,” but it exists, it gets a workout daily, and my Nerds and I appreciate it.
Regardless of what supplies your home makerspace has or the size of it, the important thing is that your Nerds have easy access to one and that they feel free to make whatever they want.
And that includes making a mess!
For guidance creating your own home makerspace, you can find a wealth of maker resources here.